Yellows and blues

A new reader came by these parts yesterday, searching for posts on sibling loss. It brought into focus for me the fact that I do not write much about Helen these days. I used to write about Helen a lot, now I write about Leila a lot.  Well, I don’t write a lot of anything really, but when I do, it’s pretty much omniLeila (new word there, think it’s going to be HUGE).

That doesn’t mean that Helen is further from my thoughts. It’s just that having a baby is massively diverting- nay, consuming– and takes up around 99% of my immediate headspace. But  beyond that immediacy which a baby commands,  a whole reservoir of thought and feeling still swirls at a slower, more contemplative pace . Much of this is still taken up with Helen. For some reason I feel- or maybe, have imposed- a tension between the unstoppable fiesta of joy that is Leila’s presence in my life, and the dark, deep stillness that is Helen’s absence.

It’s the guilty burden of the bereaved. Am I allowed to feel happy? Is it decent for the corners of my soul to be filled with a quite blinding floodlight of joy, where once they dried and curled? Can I be at once broken and stuck back together, and shiny and whole? I still don’t know the answer to that, but I sense that the answer isn’t to shout in peoples’ faces “I’M STILL SAD YOU KNOW!”, as I sometimes feel the urge to do.

On the other hand, it’s easy to wonder whether, in mourning my sister, I’m cheapening the happiness I’ve found. Should Leila’s birth draw a line under our grief? Is it time to count our blessings in gleaming stacks, instead of keeping our eyes on the gutter, watching the coins of what we had drop down and disappear? Some might assume that Leila being here should heal the wound of losing Helen.

But of course is doesn’t. Leila is not a replacement for our beloved Helen (though it’s quite uncanny to me how similar Leila is to Helen as a baby- holla to the original goblin face!).  I don’t owe it to Leila to forget about Helen. And I don’t owe it to Helen to feel any less bombastic about Leila. They’d both be horrified by the idea- if Helen were here, and if Leila had developed the consciousness to be horrified, that is.

Helen’s death made me sadder than I had ever known. Leila’s birth made me happier than I thought possible. I’m still sad, and I’m still happy. I’m living my life in yellows and blues.  It’s not easy, but it’s colourful.


3 Responses to “Yellows and blues”

  1. 1 Poon January 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Reminded me of Dad quoting Khalil Gibran:

    Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
    And the selfsame well from which your laughter
    rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
    And how else can it be?
    The deeper that sorrow carves into your
    being, the more joy you can contain.
    Is not the cup that holds your wine the very
    cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
    And is not the lute that soothes yourspirit,
    the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
    When you are joyous, look deep into your heart
    and you shall find it is only thatwhich has given
    you sorrow that is giving you joy.
    When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
    and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.


  2. 2 Min January 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    In Leila’s words- wow. You write about your daughter and your sister – your parallel stars- so simply, and so beautifully. Thank you.

  3. 3 Monkey January 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    this is beautifully, heartbreakingly and perfectly expressed. sending lots of love xxxx

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